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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Comments

What kind of salary would Bush be playing for in Korea? I would assume more than a AAA deal here.

***Mini-Mart, who finds himself without a clear path back to the Majors***

From what I've seen, tickets are fairly easy to get right now for games at CBP. He should have no issues purchasing a few so he can once again be "in the Majors".

That's about the only way he should ever again make it to CBP.

I get the drafting of arms especially as we watch the innings pile up on the current staff but the lack of everyday depth in this system scares me.

Decent article by Schoenfield regarding Papelbon and Charlies use/misuse of him.

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/25231/papelbon-phillies-once-again-not-clutch

With the new slot system, no 1st rd pick, and a weakish draft class, no one fell to (and past) the Phillies that I really lusted after. These picks seem fine with me. Who knows. They at least don't seem to be egregious mistakes out of the gate like picking Hewitt or passing on Castellanos (though Biddle is turning out to be pretty good himself).

Love the post-game Papelbon quote regarding the home plate ump:

"I just wanted to ask him if he could throw me out for what I was thinking," Papelbon said. "He was terrible all night. He probably needs to go back to Triple-A. If you don't do your job, you get demoted or fired. It affected the outcome of the game."

It should also be noted that Gueller supposedly prefers to hit and he is a pretty good 5-tool outfield prospect as well. At least that's what I've read around the inter-webs.

The Papelbon quotes are a few of many directed at umps of late. Maybe at some point the league office will wake up and actually hold some of these idiots accountable. I doubt it though. Papelbon will probably be fined for what he said but its ok for umpires to pick fights and put their own stamp on the game. Makes sense.

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/25231/papelbon-phillies-once-again-not-clutch

Posted by: 3r0ck

This is a great piece. Thanks for sharing. Beating the drum so many of us have been for years. The closer role and all roles within the bullpen are straight BS. They won't ever go away though because of the price tags and pay grades associated with them. It's pretty sad. Someday a manager with an actual sack will rid us of this nonsense.

I wish I could say I was shocked at how the people commenting on the ESPN piece just flat out don't get it but I expect nothing less.

I agree with holding umps accountable, but am I the only one who has sort of an issue with Papelbon doing that?

I get that he's frustrated, and I'm usually one of the first to think that umps should be held more accountable (including increased replay usage), but picking on a Tiple-A ump who doesn't normally work in the big leagues doesn't strike me as particularly worthy of a guy of Paps' stature.

My instinctual repsonse is "pick on someone your own size." Which is to say, I think major-league umps are fair game. Picking on the guy who just got called up sort of rubs me the wrong way. Anyone else?

The Papelbon quotes are a few of many directed at umps of late. Maybe at some point the league office will wake up and actually hold some of these idiots accountable. I doubt it though. Papelbon will probably be fined for what he said but its ok for umpires to pick fights and put their own stamp on the game. Makes sense.

Posted by: Joe D

You mean incidents like this one?

http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/7998685/russell-martin-new-york-yankees-says-talked-mlb-run-ump

My instinctual response is "pick on someone your own size." Which is to say, I think major-league umps are fair game. Picking on the guy who just got called up sort of rubs me the wrong way. Anyone else?

Posted by: Jack

Giving an ump a pass because he's new when it directly impacts the game? All hugs and kisses I guess?

The guy's umping a ML game, he's fair game.

-Get used to treading water. I know these games are frustrating but given the injuries, that's the level we can expect. Going to be a season of a few hot streaks, and ice cold streaks where nothing seems to go right.

-Papelbon was talking after the game about the incompetence of the ump and how if players don't perform they go back to the minors. He had a point, but are they allowed to do this on TV?

-Although they are scattered now, between Chase, Doc, and Papelbon, there is a lot of intensity on this team. Think Michael Corleone in Godfather 2 type intensity. Strange to say after a tough loss, but if they ever (big if) get the pieces together healthy on this team (hopefully for a stretch run) I think it's gonna be interesting.

Jack- so Papelbon and others should just give this guy a pass for failing at his job because he's normally an AAA guy? Sorry, that doesn't make any sense.

I get what you are saying Jack. It's not as if he is an established MLB ump. I think the whole issue was probably boiling inside Papelbon for a while and it boiled over last night. It's obvious that these umpires are terrible. I mean human error is going to happen but it is crazy how often I watch a game (plenty of non-Phillies games) and I'm appalled at how terrible these umps are.

You mean incidents like this one?

http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/7998685/russell-martin-new-york-yankees-says-talked-mlb-run-ump

Posted by: 3r0ck

Do all of these umpires have the temperament of an 8 year old?

while he was at it, did papelbon suggest that pence should go back to aaa for his failures?

Schoenfeld article is certainly an eye opener. Papelbon hasn't really proven to be very valuable to the Phillies so far, and it has nothing to do with his talent. They overpaid for him, and then, on top of that, Manuel is simply not maximizing his utility.

It goes back to what I said earlier: I'd rather have a bullpen of 4-5 good pitchers, than a bullpen of 1 great pitchers and 5 mediocre to poor pitchers. This is not to say that I don't enjoy having Papelbon, since there is a certain mystique to having a nearly unhittable guy in your bullpen, but when the charge leading up to him is eminently hittable, and when he's only being utilized to pitch in games where his services aren't the most valuable, it dampens the excitement.

"Jack- so Papelbon and others should just give this guy a pass for failing at his job because he's normally an AAA guy?"

Um, what exactly did calling him out in the media do, other than to embarass him in his one time actually umpiring in the major leagues? I didn't realize that players and managers were under an obligation to not give umps a "free pass" and to humiliate them publicly whenever possible.

Look, again--I'm one of the first people to say umps make too many mistakes, and should be held more accountable, and frankly that we should just get rid of them and use replay/robots/whatever. And when umps make themselves part of the story by purposefully ejecting guys for nothing (like the one ump did with Charlie a couple weeks ago)--those guys *do* deserve to be called out.

But a AAA guy who was filling in and simply had a bad night? Going and talking to him after the inning was one thing. But to then call him out in front of the entire media and say he "sucked?" What good does that do, exactly?

I wish Papelbon had kept his mouth shut. Why? MLB umpires are increasingly petulant & reactionary, & they're NOT held accountable. Now this guy is gonna be in a position to make key calls for the remainder of the series, & you know damn well Papelbon's gripes are gonna be on his mind while he's doing it. It's both unfair & unprofessional, to be sure, but that's exactly why Papelbon ought to have bit his own tongue.

I don't understand how managers can be aware of all that was addressed in that Schoenfield article and not want to at least experiment with their use of their closer.

But a AAA guy who was filling in and simply had a bad night? Going and talking to him after the inning was one thing. But to then call him out in front of the entire media and say he "sucked?" What good does that do, exactly?

Posted by: Jack

If we miss the play-offs by one game, would you still feel bad for this umpire?

In the grand scheme of things, I think the impact of Pap's comments towards the umpire is miniscule compared to the potential impact it has on this team and organization.

$.02

I don't understand how managers can be aware of all that was addressed in that Schoenfield article and not want to at least experiment with their use of their closer.

Posted by: GBrettfan

Because the MLBPA will be pissed if they take away their prized specialized roles and the price tags associated with them.

3r0ch: Well, if you think the Phillies lost that game because of the umpire...

And yes, of course I was frustrated with the call, and of course I wish it had been called a strike, and of course I will be pissed if the Phils miss the playoffs by a game (though I will have far, far more things on a list of blame if the Phils miss the playoffs than this call by this ump).

But you seem to be arguing that Pap's comments somehow could go back in time and change the call. They can't. I wish the call had been different. That doesn't mean I think it was awesome that Papelbon went out and blasted a guy just called up from AAA in front of the media. That just seems petulant and below him, especially considering the ump's status and the fact that it was a blown call--not a forced ejcetion like you see some of these clown umps doing. Those guys deserve every inch of bad press they get. I don't think this guy deserved what Pap did to him. That's all I'm saying.

Just scouting video (no report) on MLB of these two guys:

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/draft/y2012/draftcaster.jsp

Guy the Sox Brian Johnson (6-3, 230) with the #31 pick the Phils surrendered:

"Johnson has gotten looks as both a hitter and a pitcher with Florida and while he can hit a little, most feel he'll pitch at the next level.

The left-hander has four pitches he can throw for strikes. His fastball sits mostly in the average range, though he can run it up to 92 mph, with pretty good sink to the arm side. His slider is his out pitch and should be an above-average offering in the big leagues. His changeup, which he doesn't always use, has the chance to be at least above-average.Johnson gets high marks for his mound presence and willingness to go right after hitters.

College lefties are always a hot commodity and Johnson could be the first in this class to go off the board."

GBrett- teams have experimented with bullpen usage frequently, but unfortunately because the "established closer" is the accepted groupthink in MLB as soon as there's a single blown save everyone starts harping on it an it becomes a festering issue. I know Theo Epstein tried to go "closer by committee" in Boston one year and was forced to make a trade for a closer after a couple late inning bullpen losses. The A's have also adopted an "any good reliever can close" mentality, and like to flip their "established closer" for prospects and plug in a new one. The media's and fan's obsession with "closers" has created a self-fulfilling prophecy in many ways, though.

Schoenfeld article is certainly an eye opener. Papelbon hasn't really proven to be very valuable to the Phillies so far, and it has nothing to do with his talent. They overpaid for him, and then, on top of that, Manuel is simply not maximizing his utility.

It goes back to what I said earlier: I'd rather have a bullpen of 4-5 good pitchers, than a bullpen of 1 great pitchers and 5 mediocre to poor pitchers. This is not to say that I don't enjoy having Papelbon, since there is a certain mystique to having a nearly unhittable guy in your bullpen, but when the charge leading up to him is eminently hittable, and when he's only being utilized to pitch in games where his services aren't the most valuable, it dampens the excitement.

Posted by: Fatalotti

I'm with you on this. I was strongly against spending big money on a closer and advocated having Bastardo fill the role (well we see how he's been though) but I'm just against specialized roles in general. I'm so tired of it. In a way 2008 clouded the front office's view on many things and one of them was the closer role. They saw the 48-48 Lidge pulled off and just figured "hey this is how you have to be built to win it all" when in reality Lidge blew in 2009 and found himself a little in the playoffs. Then in 2010 and 2011 you had a lot of patchwork closing from Contreras, Madson, etc. and they STILL won the division those years. There are so many far more valuable roles on a ballclub than "closer". It pisses me off to no end.

"Run it up to 92" means he probably sits 88-89 on his fastball.

So he's Joe Savery as a starter.

I wouldn't be shocked if Papelbon is massively fined for his comments...if not suspended for a game or two.

A few thoughts: players and managers need to get over arguing close pitches and plays. (Like they are ever reversed anyway.) Without instant reply, the umps call them like they see 'em. Mattingly and his coach got thrown out over a pitch called a strike at the letters. A little high maybe, but certainly hittable and not worth ejection. On the other hand, I wish umpires deferred to each other more often than not. Nothing wrong with asking for help. Some of these plays are tough to call even with the aid of slow motion. A little bit more mutual respect and picking and choosing your battles I think.

3r0ch: Well, if you think the Phillies lost that game because of the umpire...

And yes, of course I was frustrated with the call, and of course I wish it had been called a strike, and of course I will be pissed if the Phils miss the playoffs by a game (though I will have far, far more things on a list of blame if the Phils miss the playoffs than this call by this ump).

But you seem to be arguing that Pap's comments somehow could go back in time and change the call. They can't. I wish the call had been different. That doesn't mean I think it was awesome that Papelbon went out and blasted a guy just called up from AAA in front of the media. That just seems petulant and below him, especially considering the ump's status and the fact that it was a blown call--not a forced ejcetion like you see some of these clown umps doing. Those guys deserve every inch of bad press they get. I don't think this guy deserved what Pap did to him. That's all I'm saying.

Posted by: Jack

The Phillies should never had let the game get so close that an umpires call would impact the game. Unfortunately, they did allow it to be that close and the umpires call did have an impact. Whether or not the call in it of itself would guarantee a win, we we'll never know. That's the point.

We agree to disagree. The ump is a big boy and so is Pap. Pap threw the umpire under the bus for a bad call - this isn't AAA and it's not little league. If you want to play in the sandbox you have to be willing to get dirty, I'm sure the umpire is aware of this, too.

I didn't think the zone was that bad last night. Thought it was just quite generous to pitchers on both the corners (especially the outside corner).

Hitters just aren't used to umps calling more of a regulation-sized strike zone (only imagine what would happen if a home ump ever actually called regulation strike zone in a game). I don't know what the pitchers were complaining about last night.

That pitch by Papelbon was a borderline pitch. It wasn't a surefire strike. LA complaining about the strike zone Worley got early was a joke last night. Worley's pitches look like a scatter shot chart of a shotgun blast. He had little/no control last night. Showed he definitely could have used at least 1 rehab start.

Papelbon's pitches:

http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/pfx.php?month=6&day=4&year=2012&game=gid_2012_06_04_lanmlb_phimlb_1%2F&pitchSel=449097&prevGame=gid_2012_06_04_lanmlb_phimlb_1%2F&prevDate=64

MG: Of course Worley could've used a rehab start, and if Halladay hadn't have gotten hurt, he would have.

But once Halladay was hurt, the team figured letting Worley do his "rehab" start at the MLB level was better than letting a guy like Scott Elarton get a start. As it turned out, they were probably right, as Worley at least gave the team a chance in the game.

Let me go on record as saying I thought the pitch to Gordon was in fact a ball. But I still think umpires need the throwing under the bus.

Got to have closers. Its a column in fantasy baseball.
Should have promoted an R-phil to LV and sent Mini to Reading.Except the infielders they have now are better than him and he wouldn't be able to play.

Jack - Worley was poor last night. The only inning he didn't run into trouble was the 3rd and only a really nice grab by Pence prevented Worley from giving up 5 runs.

This is a Dodgers' lineup too right now that is really scuffling without Kemp.

Hard to believe even Elarton would have pitched much worse (4 IP, 3 ER).

Just think, if Mini Mart hadnt gotten hurt, we'd probably be looking at him as part of our 2B platoon while Galvis sat in AAA all year instead.

Just think, if Mini Mart hadnt gotten hurt, we'd probably be looking at him as part of our 2B platoon while Galvis sat in AAA all year instead.

Posted by: NEPP

It would be fitting for the way this year has gone.

Last night was the best appearance by Savery in a Phils' uniform.

Started to run out of gas in the 7th (Cholly made a solid move by lifting him after he plunked Gordon) but Savery located his fastball on the outside corner with pinpoint control & had a nice slider with nice drop last night.

When he locates his fastball like that, he can be incredibly effective. Still needs to improve that slider though (tends to frisbee too much on him and not break enough) to really have a chance to be more than a marginal reliever.

Just think, if Mini Mart hadnt gotten hurt, we'd probably be looking at him as part of our 2B platoon while Galvis sat in AAA all year instead.

Martinez is quite possibly the least valuable player in the entire history of the game of baseball. I assume Orr will be sent down when useless returns, but if Galvis loses so much as a single inning in the field as a result, I will take hostages.

I'm amazed at the rapid transition Galvis has made...I thought for sure he was going to be a .200 hitter this year with zero power. If he can be a .250ish hitter with a little pop and a little patience, his glove would actually make him a viable everyday SS.

For NEPP- living up here in BoSox territory like me, isn't Galvis basically what the high-end projections (hopes) were for Iglesias? It's interesting how much hype his defensive skills received considering Galvis is basically a carbon copy...

Papelbon is being paid alot of money not to let things like this affect his performance.Accept it, say your piece, and move on. Papelbon has been playing the "Don't you know who I am?" card with umpires for several years now and it's becomming tiresome. As someone stated earlier, he behaves like a petulant child when things don't go his way. Shut the F up and pitch.

***isn't Galvis basically what the high-end projections (hopes) were for Iglesias? ***

Pretty much.

***Martinez is quite possibly the least valuable player in the entire history of the game of baseball. I assume Orr will be sent down when useless returns, but if Galvis loses so much as a single inning in the field as a result, I will take hostages.***

I'm willing to bet that Vic will finally get off days when Mini Mart is back over Orr as Mini Mart has CF experience, blah blah blah.

I thought the pitch to Gordon was a strike. Marginal pitch. So be it. I understand Papelbon got heated and, I'm fine with him saying his piece to the ump. Seemed a little over the top to continue b!tching about it to the press. You lost the game, buddy, not the ump.

I'm willing to bet that Vic will finally get off days when Mini Mart is back over Orr as Mini Mart has CF experience, blah blah blah.

NEPP: Mayberry should get those ABs, & Martinez should get a lengthy prison sentence for sucking so bad.

***Mayberry should get those ABs***

You'd think but he hasn't yet.

NEPP: Very true. Of course Martinez is a switch hitter, which means he's equally a pitiful waste of time from either side of the plate. That kind of versatility undoubtedly turns Charlie on.

Does anyone watch Mariners games? How good is Brendan Ryan defensively that they keep running him out there at SS with a .538 OPS? His UZR and other metric stats are off the charts and he's got a good defensive reputation but is it accurate? He'd have to be Ozzie Smith to carry that OPS at SS. I vaguely remember him on the Cardinals as being a plus defender.

Galvis:

He has shown a lot more power than I expected but his strike zone judgement is pretty terrible.

If you look at Fan Graphs, he is swinging at pitches out of the strike zone at a 39.1% rate (29.9% MLB average). I understand laying offspeed stuff away is tough but I still don't understand why he swings nearly as much as he does at high strikes. No business doing that & that is something he can work on this offseason.

% BB is only 3.6% and the MLB average is 8.3%. Biggest reason why his OBP is an anemic .260. Never going to be a guy that walks a ton but I bet if he even laid off that high strike a bit more and wasn't so willing swing 3-0/3-1 that he could his % BB up to ~6%. If he ever got it up to around league average, he would a decent option as a starter at 2B/SS. Not quite there yet.

I've seen lots of complaining about the admittedly terrible home plate umpiring. But the real killer was the blown call -- er, calls -- at 2nd base in the 1st inning.

On another matter, it seems that I'm the only one who was puzzled that, with a guy on the bench who is hitting .378 against RHP, Cholly sent up Mayberry (.213 average against RHP) & Galvis (.216) to face an unhittable righty reliever in the 9th. Not that I think the game would have turned out differently if Pierre had batted for one of those guys, but it was sort of bizarre.

NEPP, I am also worried that Mini-Mart will find his way back much sooner than later.

I still don't understand the Phils' fascination with him, but my bet is that he arrives in all his glory, and his uniform unbuttoned (don't know why that bugs me), within a week or two. This, despite whatever he shows at AAA.

***He has shown a lot more power than I expected but his strike zone judgement is pretty terrible. ***

I agree. I try to look at the bright side and say "At least he isn't striking out a ton" so hopefully he can improve his judgment and also improve on making quality contact.

Interestingly enough, his BB% jumps up to 10% when he bats 7th instead of 8th...maybe he's just seeing more hittable pitches batting 8th? (maybe pitchers challenge him more with fastballs as they dont want to turn the lineup over and he's a no-hit middle infielder in their eyes).

I like that he does make a ton of contact and that he can really put a drive in the ball when he makes solid contact. His upside seems to be low average/moderate power guy instead of weak contact slap hitter (ie Juan Pierre).

BAP - Yeah it was. Cholly has actually said before he likes PH like Pierre who can make contact.

Sending up Mayberry made a little sense (how he has a little power & might tie it) but sending up Galvis there was a poor move with Pierre available.

Thinking about the Utley comments yesterday, I wouldn't feel comfortable letting him face wild 18 year olds. He gets hit enough by ML pitchers. Probably some old guy grooving him meatballs. Are these games open to fans & media, or is it all closed off?

But if he uses Pierre for Galvis and say they do tie it then who plays 2nd? He had already burned Fontenot.

MG: Galvis actually has good numbers against LHP. But against RHP, he's hitting .214/.238/.341. Yet, last night's was the third game in a row in which the Phillies entered the 9th inning behind, and Cholly allowed Galvis to bat for himself against a RHP. He has gone 0 for 2 with a sacrifice (which didn't produce a run). All 3 times, I was wondering why Cholly didn't pinch hit.

Thinking about the Utley comments yesterday, I wouldn't feel comfortable letting him face wild 18 year olds. He gets hit enough by ML pitchers. Probably some old guy grooving him meatballs. Are these games open to fans & media, or is it all closed off?

Posted by: goody

I'm not so much worried about the guy getting hit as I am him waking up the day after the game, putting his feet down on the floor and then actually walking without collapsing to the floor.

Joe: One thing the Phillies don't lack for is utility infielders. They still had Pete Orr.

Of course, I would have pinch hit for Mayberry too. Yeah, I suppose he gives you the puncher's chance because of his power. But he has been simply awful against RHP and he's a human strikeout machine. Against a guy like Jansen, he had absolutely no chance to do anything but strike out. Bring up your .378 pop-gun hitter. Maybe he'll get a hit & steal 2nd, and then you've got something going. The odds of that scenario were way better than the odds of Mayberry hitting a homerun off of Jansen.

But if he uses Pierre for Galvis and say they do tie it then who plays 2nd? He had already burned Fontenot.

Posted by: Joe D | Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 10:43 AM

I didn't watch the game last night, so I have no idea who was available, but I suppose they could move Polly to 2nd, Ruiz to 3rd, and bring Schneider in to catch. That's a lot of machinations and putting some players in places where they are more likely to get injured, all for the small upgrade of no-power-Pierre hitting for no-plate-discipline-Galvis.

really; Korea?
(doesn't matter North or South;
just a Bush leaguer)

BAP, forgot about Iron Orr. Thanks.

Thanks for clearing that up. I honestly didn't remember who was left and forgot about Orr which is easy to do.

I agree with MG about the strike zone. The strike zone was a little wide but pretty consistent. The pitch by Papelbon was probably a strike, but not by much, certainly not worth flipping out over.

The entire team is utility infielders.

From that article:

"But entering Monday's games, all major league teams were 700-37 when leading while entering the ninth inning, a .950 winning percentage. So the average team has lost about one game leading into the ninth. Even though he's regarded as one of baseball's best closers, Papelbon's value is pretty minimal."

Interesting example of throwing a stat at the wall and claiming it proves your point.

Why is the win % 95% when teams enter the 9th with a lead? At least in part because in games that are close, the vast majority of teams USE THEIR CLOSERS!

The stat actually goes a long way to support the counter-argument to how it's being used.

Astounding.

The questioning of the "conventional" use of closers from the perspective that it doesn't maximize the use of your best pitcher in high-leverage situations is interesting. Too bad that sometimes people use such crappy reasoning to make their arguments.

Regarding Galvis hitting 7th or 8th, you would think he would see fewer pitches to hit 8th with the pitcher on deck. Those numbers are probably meaningless - at the very least the sample is too small still.

I think it's too soon to over-analyze Galvis as a hitter. It's going to take him time to adjust to major league pitching, particularly the off speed stuff. At best he's going to be a .275/.325/.400 hitter for his peak years. But he's going to be a no doubt starter at either SS or 2B because of his defense. And if that's the offense he gives you, he will be top 6 or so in the NL at either position. The Phillies have been blessed to get so much offense from their middle infielders over the past 7 years. It's unusual. With Galvis as a regular for the long term, they are going to need to make sure they put an offensive premium on more traditional positions like 3B and corner OF if they intend to field a competitive offense.

Phlipper, not all teams employ one "closer". Several teams have changed closers (White Sox, Reds, Red Sox, Dodgers, Nationals), while other teams have lost their closer for the year (Royals, Giants, Yankees, Rays, Red Sox again). Still other teams didn't go out into free agency and pony up huge cash, and instead relied on in-house options.

The point is, we are paying $12 M to have Papelbon close this year, which is far and away more money than nearly every team in baseball, and yet we have not seen much of an advantage when leading going into the 9th, and we are actually worse than the average team in terms of leading or tied heading into the 9th.

When you are a pitcher, having a good manicure is very important. It comes down to this,they have it down to a science in Korea.

Phlipper: The point was that all teams win most games in the 9th inning no matter how *good* their closer is.

The point isn't that Papelbon is a closer. It's that he's the *best* closer, and still doesn't make all that much of a difference.

Did you really not understand that point?

Fat: I know we have agreed to disagree on the value of Juan Pierre, but surely you were being a bit tongue-in-cheek when you said that, against a RHP, he's only a "small upgrade" over Galvis.

Meaning that there were two points to the article. The first is that in "save" situations, having a $12M closer and some other closer isn't a huge difference.

The second point was that if you are going to have a fantastic relief pitcher like Papelbon, you might as well use him in situations beyond just those "save" situations, so at least you are getting your best pitcher into as many high-leverage situations as possible.

Phlipper might be the only person left on earth who doesn't understand why defending modern closer usage makes no sense.

BAP, in general, he's probably more than a "small upgrade" over Galvis. (Remember, it's my belief that Pierre's been overperforming this year, given his, what I believe to be, unsustainably high BAbip).

In that situation, though, with 1 out, and a PH in the form of Luna to follow behind him, I'm not sure if a Galvis single would have meant much more than the possibility that maybe Galvis could have hit a double or more.

Again, not arguing that Pierre isn't a better hitter than Galvis, but in that situation, I'm not sure the upgrade was that much. Just my two cents, though.

Should have read: "...I'm not sure if a PIERRE single would have meant much more than the possibility that maybe Galvis could have hit a double or more."

Even though I don't personally agree, one might make an argument that having a proven commodity (such as Papelbon) "closing" games has a better chance of succeeding than going w/ several different pitchers, or the "hot hand" of any given moment. However, a team needs to have a lead when entering the 9th inning for a "Closer" to be of any real value, which makes the deal r00b threw at Papelbon particularly ignorant. The rest of the club simply isn't good enough to justify the investment. It's a classic case of cart before the horse, & typical of r00b's tenure as GM.

"and yet we have not seen much of an advantage when leading going into the 9th, and we are actually worse than the average team in terms of leading or tied heading into the 9th."

So far, he has been perfect in save situations. Not many teams can make that claim. There are two levels of comparison to be made, and one of them is an apples for apples comparison between the use of closers in save situations. He has made a difference w/r/t that context. Obviously, if we are worse than average when leading or tied going into the 9th, it is because of other weaknesses of the team (because he has been perfect). If you can attribute those weaknesses directly to his contract, and then subtract out the marginal advantage he provides over a mediocre or inconsistent closer they could have gotten otherwise and paid less, have at it.

Now, the interesting question, IMO, is whether his use in "high context" situations could be better maximized. I think it could, but that the question is far more complicated than some assume it to be. You have to consider the danger of overuse. You have to realistically weigh in the downsides on both sides of the argument (e.g., that he would likely be available for fewer games if he is brought into the 8th inning). There are intangible emotional/psychological elements that are difficult to quantify.

I am of the opinion that Mariano was the single most valuable player in baseball over his career. Arguable, of course, but since the Red Sox are my 2nd team (lived in Boston for many years), I'm well-acquainted with that feeling of inevitability I'd get in my gut when the game got towards the 7th and the score was close. I don't buy dismissal of the importance of having a good closer - although the question of maximizing the use of a good closer is interesting.

The stat that was used in the article, and your comment above, ignore many relevant factors (the use of closers by other teams, the wins resulting from teams having large leads entering the 9th, etc.) to confirm a bias.

"I am of the opinion that Mariano was the single most valuable player in baseball over his career."

Well, that explains a lot.

Yep, Gtown, yep.

Phlipper, I'm sorry, but there's simply no way that a Mariano Rivera was more valuable to the Yankees than guys like Bonds, Maddux, Carlton, Griffey, A-Rod...I could go on.

A guy throwing 70 innings a year in a very specific situations can simply not be more valuable than guys who play every day or pitch 200-350 innings and are perennial All Stars or Inner-Circle Hall Famers.

Beyond that, you are neglecting a point of your own. It's not a question of Papelbon at $12 M vs some other guy at $3 M. It's a question of Paps at $12 M vs possibly a few guys in the bullpen who are better and more durable than our current bunch, who might be cumulatively better than what we have now. Spending $12 M on one dominant guy and neglecting the rest of the bullpen, and then not maximizing the utility of that dominant closer...that's just doubling down on your error.

Second team. I love that phrase. Love it.

"Obviously, if we are worse than average when leading or tied going into the 9th, it is because of other weaknesses of the team (because he has been perfect)."

No, he hasn't been perfect. He has lost two games by giving up runs in a tie game in the ninth inning. Do those not count?

I'm not saying he shouldn't have been pitching then--he should have been. He just happened to give up runs. But you can't call him "perfect" as if those games don't exist.

leslie gudel is still so hot ... a true srilf.

Like Papelbon as a closer but he won't win any personality contests! Wonder if he gets mad at umps when they call an obvious ball a strike for him? Umps were not great last night but neither was the hitting.

"Phlipper: The point was that all teams win most games in the 9th inning no matter how *good* their closer is. "


So which closers, getting paid less or on shorter contracts, would it be better for the Phillies to have, given their proven track records, consistency, longevity, and save %'s?

How many blown saves - which is as close to a loss being "on" an individual player as you can get - have their been in baseball this year? How many teams have been perfect in save situations? Of course, that metric isn't perfect because there's always an element of luck involved (say with Paps, the fact that the only times he's given up runs has been in non-save situations is probably just a sample bias artifact).

Do you really think that how good the closer is, is irrelevant? The logic of that is that we'd be just as well-off putting Bastardo (or to extend the argument, Savery) in 9th innings of tight games, because he doesn't get paid much and 95% of the time when teams enter the game with a lead in the 9th, they win.

I think that "how good the closer is" is far from irrelevant. If you think that's a ridiculous viewpoint, more power to you.

The interesting question for me is how to maximize the benefit of having a top-shelf closer, and whether or not the Phillies do that. The problem with the way some people approach that question is that they have an agenda, and as such, ignore the counter-arguments to what they want to conclude.

The guy who invented the save should get a royalty every time some manager brings in his closer with a 3-run lead in the 9th, or doesn't use his closer in a high-leverage, non-save situation. Because, whoever that guy is, he's the cause of all this. I can't think of another example in all of sports in which the manager/coach consistently makes key tactical decisions based on whether the situation meets the criteria of a particular statistic -- let alone an arbitrary, made-up statistic.

The funny thing is that we already have a widely-used statistic which measures the exact same thing as a save, except that the reliever doesn't have to finish the game. I am talking, of course, about the hold statistic. If managers/relievers/agents simply recognized that a hold has the exact same criteria as a save, and is every bit as worthy an accomplishment, it would make a huge difference in how closers are used. Suddenly it would be ok to use your closer with a 1-run lead & the bases loaded in the 7th inning, because it's a "hold" situation. It wouldn't get you past the "tied game on the road" problem, but it would be a start.

I can't wait for r00b to drop another $50 million on an elite "Holder".

Phlipper, the Phillies had several closers last year, and were among the best in baseball in terms of save percentage. Contreras, Madson, Bastardo, Stutes, and even Herndon recorded saves last year. Not one of them was making nearly $12 M a year to do that job.

Point is, if we didn't have Papelbon, Bastardo closing might have cost us a few saves here and there. But maybe the money spent on Papelbon could have been used to bolster the spots currently going to Savery, Qualls, Schwimmer, Valdes, Diekman, and maybe having an upgrade at 3-4 spots in the bullpen more than makes up for having a downgrade from a 100% save rate to a 95% save rate. I think it's possible. Also, Papelbon is at 100% now, but will he really stay there? Like you said, the fact that he's only given up runs to put the Phils in a deficit in non-save situations is likely a sample size fluke, and those just as easily could have happened in save situations.

Fat: Well, I see your point on Pierre/Galvis. Of course, I would have batted Pierre for Mayberrry, who was the leadoff hitter. Not only is Mayberry hitting .211 against RHP but he has only 3 extra base hits (all doubles), and 33 strikeouts, in 75 ABs. He simply had no chance against a pitcher like Jansen.

"Beyond that, you are neglecting a point of your own. It's not a question of Papelbon at $12 M vs some other guy at $3 M. It's a question of Paps at $12 M vs possibly a few guys in the bullpen who are better and more durable than our current bunch, who might be cumulatively better than what we have now. "

Sure - that's a hypothetical possibility. It's conceivably a better idea to take 12M and spread it around amongst three good, but perhaps not quite as good, relievers. That might, arguably, pay off better in the long run. But I think it's probably a pretty tough call: as often pointed out by haters of conventional closer usage, "save situations" are, by definition, high-leverage situations where the game clearly hangs in the balance. A marginal difference in those situations is heightened in return on investment.

But the other factor is that it's always a gamble, and Paps was probably as close to a sure thing as you get. Now obviously his arm could fall off tomorrow, or he could simply lose his mojo, but investing 4 million in 3 pretty good relievers is also a gamble. It's certainly easy to sit back and say that hypothetically it would have brought a greater return, but to conclude that one decision was a "mistake" because of other hypothetical scenarios that might have turned out better seems rather weak. What if's, and speculation is entirely valid, and interesting. Conclusions based on those kinds of hypotheticals are little other than evidence of confirmation bias.

b_a_p: I found myself irritated that none of the local sportswriters bothered to ask about Charlie's failure to PH for Mayberry, & focused instead on Papelbon running his mouth. It felt typical of the "ESPNization" of sports.

"I think it's possible"

I have no argument that the scenario you outlined would have been a possibility. Of course it would have.

As would the possibility that they would have invested money in pitchers where the return on investment was inherently more of a gamble than with Paps (because they didn't have nearly the same kind of consistent track record), only to watch them crap out. I'm sure that we could both come up with examples of other pitchers who were potentially available that would serve as examples of either potential scenario.

Sending up Mayberry made a little sense (how he has a little power & might tie it) but sending up Galvis there was a poor move with Pierre available.

Posted by: MG

And yet, to my untrained eye, Mayberry watched two hittable fastballs right over the plate, then hacked at and missed a third badly. He is still stepping in the bucket and pulling everything he hits, which isn't much. And even though I still think he has the potential to be much better, he is moving away from that potential more every day.

While Galvis tattooed a ball as hard as a ball can be hit and only a great catch made it into an out.

Pinch hitting for Mayberry there made sense. Pinch hitting for Galvis, who is consistently better with runner on, did not.

But it's not really about the ninth inning. It's about the many horrible at bats all game long. Horrible, impatient at bats from hitters who should know better. With a manager, like Charlie, who is supposed to be a hitting guru and an actual full time hitting coach who was a very patient hitter when he played, just how deaf are these players? On a day where Kershaw was not sharp and was very beatable, they got themselves out over and over by being too impatient. Maybe we need Boston's hitting coach?

Wait, are people against Papelbon pitching the 9th last nite?

Not going to get in one of these silly arguments with Phlipper.

Papelbon has been very good but here is a breakdown on his saves:

1-run saves (4 times)
2-run saves (6 times)
3-run saves (5 times)

Single biggest reason I hate the 'save' statistic is that getting 3 outs with 3-run lead is basically a meaningless stat indicating how well a player has performed. Almost every pitcher in MLB can come in and do that with a very high frequency.

Phlipper, the Phillies had several closers last year, and were among the best in baseball in terms of save percentage. Contreras, Madson, Bastardo, Stutes, and even Herndon recorded saves last year. Not one of them was making nearly $12 M a year to do that job.

Point is, if we didn't have Papelbon, Bastardo closing might have cost us a few saves here and there. But maybe the money spent on Papelbon could have been used to bolster the spots currently going to Savery, Qualls, Schwimmer, Valdes, Diekman, and maybe having an upgrade at 3-4 spots in the bullpen more than makes up for having a downgrade from a 100% save rate to a 95% save rate. I think it's possible. Also, Papelbon is at 100% now, but will he really stay there? Like you said, the fact that he's only given up runs to put the Phils in a deficit in non-save situations is likely a sample size fluke, and those just as easily could have happened in save situations.

Posted by: Fatalotti

These are the points I was making when I said that 2008 clouded this team's judgement in terms of evaluating the closer role.

"Phlipper, I'm sorry, but there's simply no way that a Mariano Rivera was more valuable to the Yankees than guys like Bonds, Maddux, Carlton, Griffey, A-Rod...I could go on."

While I don't think the my opinion is certain, I recognize it as an opinion. That's a difference between how we approach these discussions, Fata.

I think that Mariano was the key factor in many, many post-season games, altering how the games played out strategically from sometimes maybe the 6th inning on. Not to question whether any of those other players were very valuable to their teams, but I don't think their contributions had the same degree of impact. Interestingly, although not as high as Mariano, I would probably put Jeter above the other players you mentioned.

Phillies OWN Kershaw, too bad they couldn't turn this one into a W.

Not exactly what you're talking about, BAP, because there isn't a made-up statistic behind it, but I think the over-punting on 4th down that occurs in the NFL has several parallels to the misuse of closers in baseball:

- Serious research has shown that pretty much everybody is doing it wrong
- Doing it right opens up the manager/coach to criticism, while doing it wrong is "by the book"
- Announcers are almost universally unwilling to criticize the rampant bad decision-making, to the point that they treat the decision as not a decision at all: "you have to save Papelbon for the 9th", "4th and 3 at midfield and the Eagles will have to punt"

And Another Thing:

The many interesting facets of the "Closer" discussion aside -- & I really do find it interesting -- it's all a moot point in Philadelphia, & was from the get-go. I found it both telling & not a little bit infuriating that one of the very first things r00b declared after watching a 102 win team roll over & die in the first round of the Postseason because it couldn't hit for crap was his desire to sign an "elite Closer". What the f*ck, man?! Yeah, those are nice to have, but in what world does that help what ails the ball club? Esp. as he knew even then that Howard was going to be out for a long damn time. The areas which our genius GM prioritizes are wrongheaded to the point of absurdity.

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